AN UNEMPLOYED warehouse manager said he had to go 'cap in hand' to the city's foodbank because of delays receiving Universal Credit.

Worcester Foodbank claims the number of people using the facility has shot up by over 20 per cent since last year, due to the introduction of Universal Credit in October.

The foodbank fed 2,191 people from November 2018 to January 2019, compared to 1,771 people over the same period in 2017/18.

Will Stoddart, of Bransford Road, Worcester, found that his first Universal Credit payment was less than half of what it should have been.

Mr Stoddart, whose wife is also unemployed, said: "I'm overdrawn at the moment by £9.64. We just don't have the money.

"I had to go to the Citizen's Advice Bureau twice in January to get vouchers for the foodbank.

"I never thought I'd have to go to a foodbank - cap in hand - to get food to last us until we got paid.

"I think part of the increase [in foodbank usage] is due to the way Universal Credit is being rolled-out.

"I don't think anyone has looked at the assessment period and seen how much hardship it causes people.

"Universal Credit looks good but it doesn't work. It's making the people that need the system more vulnerable - to the point where they have to use foodbanks."

Mr Stoddart also used the foodbank over the Christmas period.

He claims he applied for Universal Credit on December 12 and had to wait until December 20 for his first appointment.

The 58-year-old managed to secure an advance payment to tide him over during Christmas, however he later found out that £274 would be taken off his first payment, which he received on January 18.

Part of this amount was deducted because his wages and holiday pay entered his bank account a few days after he applied for Universal Credit.

The former warehouse manager said he was left with £342, which was supposed to last him until February 18.

This money was meant to cover his rent, food, electricity and more, however he only had £230 remaining after partially paying his rent.

He added that he does not expect things to get easier as he is expecting to receive just £316 in his next payment.

Mr Stoddart applauded Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, for recently admitting that the increase in foodbank usage is partly down to Universal Credit.

Worcester Foodbank manager Grahame Lucas said: "Universal Credit is proving such a barrier for people in many different ways.

"All we can do is help them with food and make sure they are able to feed themselves. There's not a lot else that can be done short of the benefit system being amended.

"The system is in disrepair. Those who are most vulnerable are suffering."

He added that benefit claimants normally have to wait between five and seven weeks for their Universal Credit applications to be processed.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We have made improvements to get people on Universal Credit faster access to money.

"The reasons for people using foodbanks are complex and it would be wrong to link a rise to any one cause."